Vladimir Putin’s election to a fourth term as President of Russia on 18 March is a foregone conclusion. Nobody can remotely consider Russia’s presidential election to be democratic, whatever Putin and his defenders might say. Seeing as it is obviously a sham and a travesty, one might ask why bother to hold an election at all? This is because in Putin’s Russia, the outcome of an election is not nearly as important as the conditions under which it occurs. Russian elections are really ritualised forms of political participation directed towards creating the illusion of a sustaining and legitimating mass basis of support for the regime. Thus Putin is very intent on not only winning 70% of the votes cast – since directives to regional bosses to arrange this figure were sent out long ago – but also on obtaining a turnout of more than 70% of eligible voters. By achieving this 70–70 formula, Putin and the regime can pretend to fulfil the electoral ritual and furnish it with the illusion of legitimacy.
No serious opposition will be allowed to run against Putin to make things remotely interesting. Indeed, on 28 January, as demonstrations across the country favouring a boycott to depress the total number of votes and strike at this 70–70 goal were beginning, the police arrested Putin’s main rival, Alexei Navalny. Having earlier fabricated a verdict of embezzlement against Navalny, Putin had already disbarred him by invoking a law preventing convicted felons from running.
Navalny is Putin’s fiercest and possibly most courageous opponent, and has bitterly criticised him and his minions for corruption for years, not without resonance in parts of Russia. While killing Navalny, as the regime has done with other challengers, would probably be too much, Putin has used the force of his “dictatorship of the law” (dictatorship by the law) to suppress his opponent’s message and candidacy. So the arrest was no surprise.
Full Article: The real purpose of Russia’s presidential election.